Many ecommerce firms are still not aligned with the Packaged Commodity Rules 2017 even though the Government of India has made it mandatory to avail important details about their products when selling online, as per recent ET report.
The Legal Metrology Division of the Consumer Affairs Department has started issuing notices to the ecommerce companies for not following the Packaged Commodity Rules 2017 amendment that was conceptualised in June last year and is effective since January 1, 2018.
The Department earlier said that companies may also make use of ‘Swachh Bharat’ as a label on their products for quality assurance purposes. When it comes to net quantity assurance, they can put QR codes, barcodes or e-codes on the products.
The Department has received multiple complaints from consumers stating that certain ecommerce firms were not providing the exact MRP of products while claiming to offer huge discounts. Some companies also did not provide the ‘best before’ or ‘expiry date’ of all the human consumption items sold on their online platform, even after the Rules came into effect.
Before the Rules came into effect, the Department had received over 50,760 complaints against ecommerce firms between April 2016 and March 2017, a steep jump from 23,955 in the financial year prior to that.
The Consumers Affairs Department earlier sent a notice instructing ecommerce companies to be fully compliant with the rules.
BN Dixit, Consumer Affairs Director for legal metrology said in a media statement, “We have now given an advisory to them so that they are not caught unawares if they face prosecution from state authorities.”
A recent survey shared by community social media platform, LocalCircles with Inc42, reveals that 62% consumers are still unable to find MRP information and 87% consumers are unable to find “best before or expiry date” details on packaged products while shopping on ecommerce sites.
In an official statement LocalCircles said, “Many ecommerce sites have not mentioned the actual product MRP and just mention the list price,” adding that this may be inflated so that consumers may be lured by offering big discounts on that price only to find the product receipt which shows the actual MRP was much lower than the list price.
The Packaged Commodity Rules 2017 has a provision to prosecute such non-compliant companies with fine ranging from $29.34 (INR 2,000) upto $1,467 (INR 1 lakh), depending on the nature of the offence which can lead to imprisonment as well.
India’s ecommerce market is expected to touch $200 Bn by 2026 from $ 38.5 Bn as of 2017, as per a report by Morgan Stanley.
The latest IBEF report suggests that the total online spending, inclusive of domestic and cross border shopping, is expected to increase by 31% year-on-year to $135.8 Bn (INR 8.76 Tr) by 2018. At a time when India is poised with an immense rise in ecommerce sector, it becomes imperative for the ecommerce players to comply with the law